Keep the Promise
For far too many Americans the 4th of July in the United States is just another holiday mandated by the Federal Government to be celebrated with cookouts, fireworks and parades but with little meaning beyond their personal pleasure. This disregard for the solemnity of the occasion seems to be the result of a nation of People that willingly disregard the lessons of the past in favor of a promise of the immediacy of the moment. Without the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence the United States is nothing more than a collection of disparate interests vying for privilege. In neglecting the past and relying only on the arrogance of the present there can be no real national unity in the United States. Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address January 17th, 1961 expressed a warning to the Nation as only one who lead the military forces of the Nation in a worldwide conflict could.
“Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research – these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
"But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs-balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage – balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration…..
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
"We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
"As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. *We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.* We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”
The political and spiritual heritage of the grandchildren of the United States is being squandered by a generation in search of security and ease. Every day it seems, newer, grander in scale, programs are being proposed in the halls of government without consideration of their long term consequences and without “the light of a broader consideration”. Far too often the “powers that be” fail to consider the “cost and hoped for advantage”, the "balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable"; the “balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual" and the "balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future.” So, when celebrating this July 4th, let all of us as Americans pause and reflect on the promise in the founding of the great Nation and pray as did Dwight D. Eisenhower when he said,
“We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”
That prayer is the promise of the Declaration of Independence which we in the United States of America celebrate every Fourth of July. Let’s hope we can keep the promise for the generations to come.